Analysis of risks related to the misuse of Natural Radioactive Materials for terrorist attacks, European project HOME/2009/ISEC/AG/130

The project has been realized with financial support from the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union

European Commission – Directorate-General Home Affairs


The Landau Network Centro Volta, together with its partner U-Series srl, implemented the project during July 2010 – July 2011.

The project analyses the possible misuse of NORMs (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials) for malicious intent. There are different perspectives and consequent gaps that regulate NORMs in the EURATOM Directive n° 96/29 (national transport in EU MS based on effective dose) and in the IAEA Safety standard TS-R-1 (international transport based on radioactivity concentration). Currently, in some countries, there are no legal limitations regarding the radioactivity concentration in NORMs, but there are some limits on dose values. Moreover, regarding the radioactivity concentration and the total amount of radioactivity, the several thousands of industrial sectors involved in production as waste/management/disposal of these materials are not constrained by any form of accountancy and recording.

So, the main purpose of this project is to raise European and, possibly, International concerns and debate regarding NORMs, with the aim of moving towards a voluntary regime of regulation. There is the need therefore to identify and monitor the industrial processes involving NORMs, starting from the industrial activities listed in Directive 96/29, not only for radioprotection purposes, but also for security reasons. The risks connected to these industrial activities are amplified since there are no specific controls and surveillance procedures given, so these activities are considered like other industrial conglomeration producing wastes.

The possible use of NORMs for a terrorist attack could become a possibility: these latent radioactive resources could be used to produce dirty bombs. These kind of attacks can have a different effect compared to a nuclear one, but the radiological sources for the manufacturing of Radiological Dispersion Devices (RDDs) are far more easily available than nuclear material.

Finally the project wants to underline an aspect usually not taken into consideration: the human dimension of radiological proliferation and expertise. Specific objectives, actions and achievements can be read in the document attached.


HOME project summary_final.pdf (19,43 KB)